What happens on Splash Day? Besides the actual work of lifting the boat with the crane, placing it in the water, and raising the mast, there is much pomp and circumstance that should accompany the day. And of course, no celebration could be complete without food and drink.
Traditionally, the naming and launching of boats is fraught with ceremony. According to legend, every vessel must be recorded by name in the "Ledger of the Deep", and is known personally to Poseidon (or Neptune) the god of the Sea. But there is more to the naming than just the champagne!
First there is a dedication, traditionally performed by someone who can sound like Richard Burton: "Oh mighty and great ruler of the seas and oceans, to whom all ships and we who venture upon your vast domain are required to pay homage, implore you in your graciousness to take unto your records and recollection this worthy vessel hereafter and for all time known as XYZZY, guarding her with your mighty arm and trident and ensuring her of safe and rapid passage throughout her journeys within your realm."
Following the dedication, libations must be offered, and the gods of the winds and sea must be honored. This will assure the owner of fair winds and smooth seas. There are four wind gods (one for each direction) and although they may be invoked altogether, during the ceremony they must be addressed individually. The invocation usually used reads like this: "Oh mighty rulers of the winds, through whose power our frail vessels traverse the wild and faceless deep, we implore you to grant this worthy vessel XYZZY the benefits and pleasures of your bounty, ensuring us of your gentle ministration according to our needs."
After the invocation, champagne must be flung in each direction, asking permission of each wind god to use his powers. Boreas, ruler of the North Wind, Zephyrus of the West, Eurus of the East, and Notus of the South-each must be acknowledged.
Lastly, a final supplication to Aeolus and Neptune completes the ceremony: "Hail! Aeolus and Neptune! We seek your benevolence upon this vessel, now to be known as XYZZY!" Of course, participants are also encouraged to imbibe, preferably long and often, in between each step.
In early ship-launching times, a beautiful chalice was used, and wine substituted for modern day champagne. The costly cup was usually flung overboard after the successful launch, but that got
quite expensive and so the ritual of smashing the entire bottle against the hull was adopted instead. Alas, during Prohibition, apple cider was the strongest offering allowed! Makes one wonder how many ships might have foundered because Neptune wasn't satisfied...
Another launch tradition involves placing a gold or silver coin under the mast. This custom goes back thousands of years, and derives from the ancient Greek belief that when a person died he had to cross the River Styx to get to Hades (which in those days was simply regarded as the Underworld, the home of the dead, and not a bad place). However, a coin was needed to pay Charon the ferryman, and without payment, the soul might be trapped between worlds. So, in deference to any possible connection to truth (why tempt fate?), we have a 2014 minted 1/4 ounce gold Krugerrand to place as the mast is being stepped. (2014 because it has to be minted during the model year of the boat.)
|Hull Graphic Mockup|
Of course we will have additional finish work to still be completed after launch; the carpenter situation continues to lag behind schedule, so the two weeks before the St Pete show will be very, very busy. Systems will need to be tested and final touches completed. But the end is in sight, thanks to hard work on everyone's part.